Dad: White House jumper has “mental health” issues
WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest person to climb over the White House fence had the paranoid belief he was being watched by cameras and had previously been arrested at the executive mansion, his father said.
Dominic Adesanya was ordered held without bond in an appearance Thursday before a U.S. judge. Wearing blue prison garb, he resisted being taken away and started talking as two deputy marshals removed him from the courtroom.
Adesanya, 23, has been charged with two federal offenses: unlawfully entering the restricted grounds of the White House and harming two law enforcement dogs that were released to take him down. A preliminary hearing and detention hearing have been scheduled for Monday.
The incident came about a month after a previous White House fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, sprinted across the same lawn carrying a knife, ran past armed uniformed agents and entered the mansion before being felled in the East Room and taken into custody. This week a federal judge delayed his arraignment because of questions about his mental fitness to stand trial.
The embarrassing Sept. 19 incident preceded the disclosure of other serious Secret Service breaches in security for President Barack Obama and ultimately led to Julia Pierson’s resignation as director of the agency after 18 months on the job.
Earlier Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said options are being considered to enhance security at the White House, including more personnel, technology and physical impediments to get in. He praised the agents’ response, saying, “Yesterday’s incident underscores the professionalism of men and women of the Secret Service.”
Adesanya had previously been arrested at the White House on July 27 and ordered to undergo mental health screening. His father, Victor Adesanya, said in a telephone interview Thursday that his son has been experiencing mental health problems for over a year, but he refused the help the family tried to get for him.
Victor Adesanya said his son was diagnosed with paranoia and “complained about cameras everywhere.” He said at one point his son took down a mirror in the bathroom and cut into the wall, trying to find a camera. He also looked for them in the family’s attic. He said his son was not trying to hurt the president.
“He’s not violent. He’s not a criminal. He’s not a murderer. He’s just someone that’s just mentally disturbed,” he said.
Court records from Dominic Adesanya’s July arrest show he told an officer that he wanted cameras that had been placed in his home removed. The document also says he told an officer that the security barrier he jumped over “was easy and that the next fence to the south grounds of the White House would not be a problem as well.”
After the arrest he was ordered to get outpatient mental health screening. He was apprehended again on July 30 after he refused to leave the Treasury building, which is next to the White House, and swung his fists at officers. Dominic Adesanya was supposed to return to court Sept. 9 but didn’t show up. Warrants for his arrest were issued.
After climbing over the fence Wednesday night, Dominic Adesanya was swiftly apprehended on the North Lawn, on Pennsylvania Avenue, by uniformed Secret Service agents and their dogs. He was unarmed. Obama was at the White House at the time.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican who has been leading congressional investigations into the Secret Service, commended the swift response Wednesday night but said more needed to be known about Dominic Adesanya, including whether he was doing anything suspicious immediately before the incident that should have led to his detection. Chaffetz also suggested changes might be needed to “maximize the pain of going over the fence.”
Associated Press writers Pete Yost, Nedra Pickler, Darlene Superville and Erica Werner contributed to this report.